(A version of this post also appears on The Center For Effective Philanthropy Blog.)
In a perfect world, our ideal audiences would read every one of our tweets, consume every blog post and make sure not a day goes by without checking Facebook for our latest updates.
But we know it’s not a perfect world, and for proof we have the results of a Center for Effective Philanthropy survey that examined grantees’ engagement with foundations’ social media. For any tweeting, blogging, or Facebook-using foundation that presumes their grantees are paying routine attention to what they’re writing, posting and featuring through social media channels, this study may surprise, but I don’t think it should disappoint.
Guest Post: R. Christine Hershey
In an increasingly visual culture, the old ways of communicating lessons learned are startlingly out of touch with how we want and expect to get information. That’s why the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation decided to try a new approach to sharing lessons they were learning from the evaluation of two social impact games. One game, Battlestorm, was a youth-based game to improve hurricane preparation awareness and habits on the Gulf Coast. The other, Macon Money, used an alternative form of local currency to connect residents to each other and to attract and expose people to local businesses in Macon, Georgia. For both evaluations, the foundation wanted to communicate its findings in ways that were just as appealing, interactive, and forward-thinking as the games themselves.
I didn’t get into the Communication field because I’m a numbers person. Words are my tools, not pixels or bytes or zeros and ones. Pie charts are interesting – when someone else explains them. Even spreadsheets make me uneasy. I’d rather write a narrative. But the Ford Foundation’s Change By Design conference I attended in New York City in late June may well have been a game-changer for me. For the first time I could really see how facts and figures – when put into the hands of designers, researchers, artists and statisticians– can pack a dramatic punch large enough to have a room full of foundation veterans oohhing and aahhing.
The event featured leaders in the fields of design, social innovation, art, and journalism, all of whom are thinking creatively about digital storytelling. During the day-long event presenters shared case studies on topics ranging from experiential data visualization to data for news reporting to collaborative mapping. It was a day of inspiration more than it was a day of skill-building. It was a profound shift in your thinking kind of day. I left feeling like I’d seen the future of social change. And the future, let me just say, is information design.